Edsger Dijkstra, 1930-2002

12 Aug 2002 /

I mean, if 10 years from now, when you are doing something quick and dirty, you suddenly visualize that I am looking over your shoulders and say to yourself, ‘Dijkstra would not have liked this,’ well, that would be enough immortality for me.

— Edsger Dijkstra

Dijkstra, a pioneer in computer science and structured programming, has died of cancer at age 72.

He was widely known for his note “Go To Statement Considered Harmful” — published in the March 1968 Communications of the ACM — which fired the first salvo in the structured programming wars.

(For an opposing viewpoint, see “Real Programmers Don’t Use Pascal.”)

Reportedly, the ACM considered the resulting acrimony sufficiently harmful that it will, by policy, no longer print an article taking so assertive a position against a coding practice.

Use of titles of the form “X Considered Y” remains a persistent in-joke.

Another in-joke: Dijkstra and his wife enjoyed exploring state and national parks in a Volkswagen camper van called the Touring Machine.

Related Links

  • EWD Archive
    Dijkstra’s collected papers are maintained by the University of Texas at Austin.

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